6 Dec 2012

Unions unimpressed with forestry code

2:12 pm on 6 December 2012

The Council of Trade Unions says a safety code for the forestry industry is not good enough to deal with the sector's high fatality rate.

The code is intended to help reduce the number of accidents in forestry, which produces six times the number of injury claims to ACC as happens across all economic sectors.

The scheme was unveiled at a conference of Forest Industry Contractors in Rotorua on Wednesday and is intended to support a forestry harm reduction campaign launched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

A series of accidents, most recently in Tararua last week, has led to union calls for a widespread inquiry into safety in forestry.

CTU president Helen Kelly says the new code is weak and will not reduce the industry's disgraceful safety record. She is calling for an inquiry into the industry.

The FIRST union, which represents forest and wood processing workers, says the new safety standards are missing the vital ingredient of worker participation.

General Secretary Robert Reid says the union made submissions on the original discussion paper but has not been involved in the development of the standards since.

Forestry Contractors chief executive John Stulen says forestry workers were consulted directly on developing the code, not through the union.

Peter Clark, chief executive of forestry servicing company P F Olsen, says the industry's interest is to keep everyone safe and workers were consulted during the formation of the new code.